To The Commissioner,
I wish to submit the following concerns about hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.
- The history and high risk of failures and accidents
associated with fracking across the world demonstrates that it
threatens the health of our rivers and aquifers.
- I believe that the risk of fracking is too high and the
potential for serious long-term impacts too great to be compensate for
the short-term financial benefit to the Northern Territory.
- The high level of water use by mining companies which is not controlled by the Water Act, meaning mining companies do not need to seek a licence to extract water for fracking.
- Industrialization and fragmentation of our pristine
bushlands, which are our biggest asset in terms of both biodiversity
and providing for the livelihoods of many Territorians.
- The impact on the landscape since one shale gas field typically contains many wells connected by pipelines.
- The risk of gases seeping out into our aquifers, waterways and bores.
- Health impacts of fracking caused by the contamination of our air and water.
- The lack of responsibility by mining companies to protect the health of the surrounding environment and communities.
- The lack of information about its potential cumulative environmental, social, health and cultural impacts.
- The devastating impact it could have on our fishing and tourism industries
- The devastating impact it could have upon sacred sites
- The social impact of industrialization turning our regional and remote areas into gas factories.
I ask the Inquiry to respond to the following questions:
- The EPA has stated that there are too many wells to assess
individually and that the NT Government does not have the resources to
ensure compliance. Will companies be required to undertake
environmental impact assessment of each well?
- How can the community have confidence in the government to be
able to make informed decisions based on the science and not just the
hard sell from mining companies?
- Have any independent studies been undertaken to properly assess the impacts of fracking in a tropical monsoonal environment?
- How will the potential health, social and cultural impacts of fracking be assessed?
- Who pays for environment clean up if fracking allows gas to leak
into the groundwater and more methane to be released into to our
atmosphere, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions?
- Do mining companies have the right to come on to any pastoral
lease, private freehold or native title land and frack for gas without
free, prior and informed consent by the landholder?
- Where landholders do have a right to veto, or to compensation, how is their decision process informed?
- What will happen to the millions of litres of contaminated waste water?
- Who benefits financially from fracking?
- How will mining companies be subsidized or incentivized to frack using taxpayer dollars?
- How can people living in remote communities contribute to this Inquiry?
- How will commercial interests be represented in this Inquiry?
- Will any forums be held to discuss issues raised by the Inquiry?
- Will the Inquiry acknowledge that both mining companies and
governments have a vested interest in allowing fracking to go ahead
despite the risks it presents, and the bias that this presents?
- How will the results of this Inquiry be reported and enacted?
- Who will ensure mining companies comply with any guidelines formed as a result of this Inquiry?
- If I have concerns about fracking activities taking place on my property, who can I contact?
I call on you to make recommendations for:
- Ensuring that any fracking development takes place according to
the Precautionary Principle for Ecologically Sustainable Development and
that this is incorporated into the relevant legislation.
- Funding an independent scientific study which properly assesses
all impacts (environmental, health, social and cultural) caused by
fracking both interstate and overseas to assess the risk to the
- Independent assessment of the climate impact of fracking, including fugitive emissions.
- A moratorium on all fracking until all of these risks have been properly assessed by independent scientists.
- Assessing and establishing permanent 'no go' zones for sensitive areas as reserved blocks under the Petroleum Act
(e.g. Drinking water catchments, cultural or environmentally
significant areas such as sacred sites or protected areas, groundwater
recharging zones, food croplands)
- Ensuring the onus of proof to demonstrate that fracking is safe
for the Territory's environment and communities is borne by the mining
companies rather than landowners, including the collection of baseline
data prior to any impact.
- An open, transparent process for information to be provided and distributed throughout communities.
- Mining companies must obtain free, prior and informed consent from all landholders as per best practice management.
- Mining companies undertaking fracking must be required by law to
respond to the criteria for environmental impact assessment as per any
other significant development.
- Water use by mining companies must come under the Water Act so that companies taking water for fracking are required to apply for a water extraction licence.
- Proper resourcing of monitoring and compliance bodies such as the EPA and Department of Mines and Energy.
- Provisions to ensure that the mining company bears the financial
and moral responsibility for any negative impacts caused by fracking.
- The NT Government ceases the use of taxpayer dollars to provide subsidies.